The Border Bruins wrapped up their pre-season training camp Sunday, Sept. 12, shaking off the pandemic winter that forced the bears into hibernation earlier this year.
“We’re starting over,” head coach and general manager Dave Hnatiuk told The Gazette.
Fans will have to wait for the Bruins’ Oct. 2 season opener before weighing the re-start’s success or failure, but it must be said here that just everything about last weekend’s camp, including Hnatiuk, was indeed new.
Twenty-four players hit the ice at the Jack Goddard Memorial Arena starting Friday night. All but two were new to the organization, Hnatiuk said.
“I’ve been happy all weekend. I saw a lotta great play out there and their tempo was great.”
The Bruins’ 2020-21 season, delayed in September, was cancelled after the province’s tightened COVID-19 safety protocols as part of its February “circuit breaker.” The team was sold in May to new owner Dr. Mark Szynkaruk, who brought in Hnatiuk from Selkirk College to replace former coach John Clewlow.
Along with assistant coaches Shane Gorman and Igor Agarunov, Hnatiuk is hoping for a great start to this season’s exhibition, which pits the Bruins against the Osoyoos Coyotes, at Osoyoos Saturday, Sept. 18. Most of the players who laced up for training camp will stay with the team at least until their season opener against the Beaver Valley Nitehawks, Hnatiuk said.
The Bruins were ranked third in the Neil Murdoch Division when the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League cancelled last season.
All players and coaching staff are doubly vaccinated against COVID-19, as per the league’s policy.
They’ll be well taken care of with a doctor in the owner’s box, Hnatiuk said.